2017 Year in Review

I had a couple of goals from last year for the blog.

  • Keep up the weekly post cadence
  • Continued increases in readership
  • Write a longform piece and see what that looks like in this format

I kept the weekly post cadence, but a couple of times I did feel like I was running out of material. Readership was up from 440 views last year to 587 this year. The page getting the most views was the homepage, which almost tripled from last year with 133 views vs 48 last year. I’m not sure what that means, it could mean people just coming back to see what’s new, or visitors just looking at the homepage after whichever article they searched for. Otherwise the most visited page was last year’s Anonymous type XML serialization with 94 views. I appreciate that it seems to have garnered a pretty regular stream of visitors since I first posted it. To me, that means it has lasting value. As for longform I don’t think I accomplished that, I feel like the posts I wrote this year actually hit the 500-750 word mark pretty consistently as compared to previous years.

For 2018 I’ve still got last year’s goals for the blog to continue on. I also want to better understand what articles people are reading. In order to do this I want to try overhauling the landing page, so that it gets me that information. I could achieve this same end by putting a ‘read more’ tag into each post, but I don’t like those when I read content so I would feel hypocritical using them on my own. I am considering a static landing page to see what that does, but I don’t know what I would want to put on it.

In terms of personal technical goals going into next year, I want to carve out time to learn some Haskell or Cats and those efforts seem like they would create interesting posts. I know we’ve got a project coming up at work that will mean switching from Reactive Mongo to the official Mongo Scala driver and upgrading to Play 2.5, which will probably be occupying a good bit of my time early in the year. I’m not sure what other projects I would be doing at work. Other technologies I use at work that I want to get further into are RxScala and the Docker and Mesos infrastructure we build on top of. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and I know I would need to find a project to do with any of those to really dig in.

2017 had plenty of surprises in my programming experiences, and I don’t expect to be able to predict what 2018 will hold. I’ve got a direction, not a destination.


2016 Year in Review

Looking back at this year’s blogging, strictly by the numbers everything is much bigger than last year. Last year there were 63 pageviews by 42 visitors, this year there were 440 views by 359 visitors. Part of the increase was since I have a whole year rather than a couple of months’ worth but that doesn’t account for the whole increase.

Last year I outlined some goals for this year.

  • Increase readership
  • Keep up the weekly posts
  • Write more technical posts
  • Write about what I was doing at work some

I feel like I achieved each of these goals. The views were up considerably, for both the new posts and some of the old posts. I hit the weekly post goal, although I went through a good bit of the backlog of post ideas I had. I got some more technical posts with some of the Nuget conversion, Scala posts and the anonymous type serialization. The Nuget conversion was what I was doing at work and I got to talk about that some.

As for some of the specifics of this year, F# Koans and the post on the Javascript Ecosystem both continued to get a good number of views. The post on Modern Agile was a surprise hit on my part racking up 108 views and a surprising variety of incoming sources from LinkedIn, Slack, and a couple of different tweets.

I’ve got a couple of goals going forward for 2017

  • Continued increases in readership
  • Keep up the weekly post cadence
  • Write a longform piece and see what that looks like in this format

I don’t have any specific means to accomplish the readership increase. Last year I added references to the blog in a couple of profiles I had other places, but that seems to have only generated five referrals. Since a quarter of the views came from one post I’m slightly concerned that readership may go down. The weekly post cadence helps me keep in the writing habit and while there have been some posts that didn’t generate any views, that’s something I think I can live with. I’d like to try the longform piece since a number of the posts I’ve been writing are just pointing towards other people’s ideas and not a lot of new thoughts. To a certain point the problems I’m fighting and the solutions I’m deploying aren’t that different than what other people are doing so a lot of these ideas are already out there in the world.

Book Chat: The Leprechauns of Software Engineering

The Leprechauns of Software Engineering is a deconstruction of different claims of ‘fact’ in software engineering that are shown to have dubious origins. The three main claims discussed are: the origins of the waterfall process, 10x programmer productivity, and the defect cost curve. If you are a fan of meta analysis this book is definitely something you should check out. Even if you aren’t into that sort of thing the ‘facts’ discussed are commonly being cited in other places that are accepted without much thought.

The 10x study was especially affecting, because while many of us have anecdotal experience that says that this is true; however, the research that supposedly shows it was so haphazardly done that it shouldn’t be trusted. For instance, some of the supporting studies had people debugging a piece of code who weren’t familiar with the programming language it was written in, but were included in the study anyway. Of course the people with greater familiarity with the programming language would be greatly superior at debugging. In other studies, the researchers measured lines of code per hour as a measure of skill, but more lines is not necessarily the mark of greater productivity. Some of the studies had different participants using different programming languages and tools; some measured whole projects. Altogether, it wasn’t information that feels like it shows the claim with the certainty it was normally made with.

The investigation of the defect cost curve was more about the definition of the defect, the definitions of the various phases, the numbers attached to the curve, and how somewhat reasonable claims got distorted into the commonly seen form. The evidence does not show a rigid cone with phases and multipliers. However, to me, it shows that the cone does exist, but it shows the best you can expect to do, not how well you will do.

Overall, the book is an impressively researched and cited effort that digs through years of history to try and uncover the truth. It calls into question some of the foundational ‘facts’ of software engineering that may seem true, but we haven’t bothered to do the rigorous research to prove it. I want to help in getting the word out there on these misconceptions, and hope you join me. The sooner we acknowledge the basic research isn’t there the sooner we can build that solid foundation on the truth.

Virtual Conference

Conferences have tons of great content, much of which gets recorded and posted online. Here, I offer up a virtual conference to all of you that has some of my favorite recorded conference sessions on a variety of useful topics.

I encourage everyone to explore further and share any interesting sessions they find in the comments. I’ve found lots of great sessions just by starting with one interesting video, then opening the recommended related videos that seemed interesting. From an educational perspective, I find this to offer much of the benefit of attending a live conference, but with much more flexibility and no cost. But, there’s no hallway track here however.

2015 Year in Review

I started this blog this year to give back to the community. On a personal note, I’m pleased with having succeeded at writing a post every week. I had been aiming for posts a little bit longer than most of what I wrote (I was aiming for 500-750 words a piece but seemed to hit 300-500 more consistently).  I had hoped to post more technical content like the F# posts but I ended up having less opportunity for personal projects than anticipated, and nothing from work would have provided  enough to post about without a 3000 word introduction to provide context.

I wanted to show some insight into what the reception has been since I started back in September. WordPress collects some basic stats on the blog.


The weird thing that jumped out to me immediately is that I’m getting much more traffic from Bing than Google. The bulk of the traffic being for the article I wrote on F# Koans, but that seems reasonable since people looking for information about F# would be using Bing. Also when searching for “F# koans” on Bing I’m the second result, whereas on Google I gave up looking for it after page 15. The “Michael O Church” referrals were all from a WordPress linkback, where his articles that I linked to got footers that linked back to me. The twitter traffic was all for the Checklist Manifesto post.

Overall, traffic was pretty low with 41 people looking at 62 pages. I didn’t do anything to promote traffic, which seems like a good reason for traffic to be so low. I don’t know how this compares to other new blogs. I’m not sure what things I could or should be doing to promote traffic. I think that I should link the blog in profiles I have in various places, which could drive more traffic.

I’ve enjoyed the writing all of these posts. Writing out my thoughts on various topics have helped organize them, especially with the Javascript ecosystem post. I’ve only had one post I tried to write where I couldn’t articulate my thinking clearly and gave up on it (and I’m planning on going back to it eventually.) I wish that I had started doing this years ago.

I’d like to share some of my blogging goals for 2016. I want to keep up the weekly pace – the list of ideas for posts I keep has been holding steady in length although it seems to be accumulating some more complex topics. I want to try and do some more technical posts, but those require more inspiration/preparation. I want to find a way to describe some of what I’m doing at work since it is interesting, but without too much context. Thanks to everyone who has supported me so far, I hope those who have read it have enjoyed it, and here’s to a great 2016!